President Trump referred to a New York Times reporter, Maggie Haberman, as "Maggot Haberman" in a Thursday afternoon post on his social media platform Truth Social.
Sharp criticism of the media when warranted is something I've made a career of. I've never been a "never Trumper." And I even empathize with Trump's anger at how he's been treated by partisan prosecutors and by the press. Even so, for the Republican party's leading presidential candidate to make fun of a reporter's name and liken her to a subhuman insect is outrageous. It deserves condemnation.
The comment got little press attention, which is too bad. Usually the press sticks up for its own.
If any readers can't understand what's wrong with this, maybe you never had a bully make fun of your name. We're in a moment in this country and in the world where we need leadership that brings back kindness, civility, and an emphasis on human dignity. Calling someone a "maggot" falls short of that standard.
Additionally, Haberman is from a Jewish family. When a George Washington University professor, David Karpf, called New York Times columnist Bret Stephens a bedbug, Stephens correctly pointed out that this is a classical antisemitic trope. Hitler, in Mein Kampf, wrote, " the Jew is a maggot in a rotting corpse." So it's a particularly troubling choice of words in the aftermath of the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.
Anyway, Trump should apologize and cut it out. Politics isn't beanbag, and the voters don't want a milquetoast. But Americans are also basically good. We want a president who is going to bring out the country's best, not its ugliest. As Joe Biden would say, come on man, this is America. If Trump stays on this track, the voters will eventually notice, and he'll lose.